Small spooky scene

Status
Not open for further replies.

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,445
Location
Devon
I've not written anything to do with this all week so I'm fiddling with it instead.

I don't think this scene is quite right. I'd like it to be more scary, I think. Unsettling.

Ambrose has just had a nightmare, then this:





Ambrose woke with a gasp. He lay in bed in the dark, heart thumping. As his heartbeat settled, he leaned over to the bedside table and picked up his phone, the screen lighting up as he touched it.

5.30am. He wondered if Mercer would be awake. He put the phone down and got out of bed, figuring he might as well go to the bathroom now that he was up. Stifling a yawn, he wandered down the corridor to the bathroom, feeling along the wall until he found the light switch. With only him in the house, he didn’t bother closing the door as he used the toilet.

He flushed, washed his hands, and spent a moment fussing over his reflection. As he turned to the door, something dark moved down the corridor. He froze, breath held, stomach clenched. He could hear nothing but the pounding of his heart. Had he imagined that?

In films, the idiot would call out and alert the intruder, making them aware of their presence. Well there was no way he was going to do that. He knew the floorboard just in front of the bathroom door creaked too. He needed to avoid it and sneak down the stairs and out, maybe to the neighbour’s where he could use the phone to call the police. He just needed to move.

Warm breath on the back of his neck. The hair on his arms rose, a voice whispered, “Ambrose.”

He ran, almost tripping over himself as he flew down the stairs, bare feet thumping cream carpet. He sped across the hallway, hit the front door, fumbled with the handle, and tumbled out into the street.

Outside, he drew in gasps of breath, dragged a hand through his hair and chanced a look back at his house. Nobody followed him. The door was open, the hallway still dark and everything quiet but for a dog barking somewhere down the street.

He shivered as the adrenalin rush dropped away and as the minutes passed, he started to feel self-conscious standing in the middle of the road in his boxers. Headlights shone and a car drove down the road so he raised an apologetic hand and returned to the pavement, cursing himself for sending Mercer home.

Still nobody emerged from his house but he wouldn’t go back inside. What if somebody was waiting for him with a knife? Then a niggle at the back of his mind: what if he’d imagined it? Had he really heard a voice? If he had, he couldn’t remember what it had sounded like. He didn’t even know if it had been male or female. Male, he thought.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
18,564
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
Oh, I'm in a dark scene mode today; just told Mr. S. an idea for a new scene and he went urggh. Bad sign that.

I think he gets outside too quickly, Mouse, and it all seems okay too easily. Like it was maybe imagination. It's really well written, there's no problem with that, but it's like I'm just starting to get spooked with the voice in his ear, and then he's escaped and he's okay.

I'd have liked it to follow, or he couldn't find the key and the voice repeated again, and the bubbling oh no, I'm trapped, and there's no way out and where is the key, oh lord, where has Mercer put it. Back against the wall, fingers fumbling for it, and then, his hand grasps it, but feels something in the darkness try to grab him and then out.

Or something. Got carried away there. In a dark mood, see. :D
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,445
Location
Devon
I think that's why I'm struggling with it, because I want it to be scary, yet I want him and any readers to think it might just be imagination.
 

subtletylost

Formerly fishii
Joined
Aug 11, 2011
Messages
381
Location
wherever I am, probably walmart
I think he gets outside too quickly, Mouse, and it all seems okay too easily. Like it was maybe imagination. It's really well written, there's no problem with that, but it's like I'm just starting to get spooked with the voice in his ear, and then he's escaped and he's okay.

Oh I agree now that I think about it. Thanks Springs, you made me think some today.
 
Last edited:

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
18,564
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
I think that's why I'm struggling with it, because I want it to be scary, yet I want him and any readers to think it might just be imagination.

I think if you can put the fear in his mind, rather than externally that should do it. Did he feel something, or was it just the wind?

Oh I agree now that I think about it. Thanks Springs, you made me think some today.

Cheers, Fishii, give me an hour, it'll all settle down again. A rare moment of lucidity here, I'm sure. :)
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,445
Location
Devon
She does indeedy.

What about the 'gasps of breath' bit? Should it be 'gasps of air' or 'gasping breaths' instead? I'm thinking I'm wrong somehow.

And the line where the voice speaks doesn't quite work for me.
 

Warren_Paul

Banishment this world!
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
2,958
Location
Middle-Earth
Ambrose woke with a gasp. He lay in bed in the dark, heart thumping. As his heartbeat settled, he leaned over to the bedside table and picked up his phone, the screen lighting up as he touched it.

5.30am. He wondered if Mercer would be awake. He put the phone down and got out of bed, figuring he might as well go to the bathroom now that he was up. Stifling a yawn, he wandered down the corridor to the bathroom, feeling along the wall until he found the light switch. With only him in the house, he didn’t bother closing the door as he used the toilet.

He flushed, washed his hands, and spent a moment fussing over his reflection. As he turned to the door, something dark moved down the corridor. He froze, breath held, stomach clenched. He could hear nothing but the pounding of his heart. Had he imagined that?

In films, the idiot would call out and alert the intruder, making them aware of their presence. Well there was no way he was going to do that. He knew the floorboard just in front of the bathroom door creaked too. He needed to avoid it and sneak down the stairs and out, maybe to the neighbour’s where he could use the phone to call the police. He just needed to move.

Hey Mouse.

Overall I think it's good. I wonder if the bit in red is a bit too lucid thinking so the situation? It doesn't sound like he is panicking or anything, or even scared in that paragraph; just working out a game plan of how to escape. I think you need to get more of his emotion into that paragraph. Like creeping to the door, peeking out, not seeing anyone, then looking down and remembering the floorboard creaks, so step over it. Something like that.

The ones in bold I think take away a bit of the suspense, imo. The "As he did this, that happened" lines.

I think they might be more suspenseful if written like: Ambrose turned back to the door. A dark figure moved down the corridor.


weird how in my control panel it says this thread has 0 views. but yeah Mouse listen to springs I think *at least for now* he knows what he's talking about.

I'd hide Fishii, now. ;)
 

allmywires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,672
Location
London
I like the scene. The only thing that really bothers me is the line at the end, which seems a bit flat. If he doesn't know if it's male or female, then why does he suddenly decide it's male? Cut one or other of the sentences, I think.

You're right about 'gasps of breath', Mouse, could be either of those you suggested but the former isn't quite right.

Oh, and lastly, I'm not sure how you could do it but perhaps set up the spooky encounter by maybe a paragraph or so? It does happen very quickly and then go away very quickly...if you understand what I mean. It's like being pricked in the arm with a needle; unpleasant, but not enough for one to linger on it.

For a quick comment that got very long, apologies... :eek:
 

ctg

weaver of the unseen
Supporter
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Messages
8,497
As always ignore the edits if they don't fit your prose.

Ambrose woke with a gasp. He lay in bed in the dark, heart thumping. As his heartbeat settled, he leaned over to the bedside table and picked up his phone, the screen lighting up as he touched it.

This doesn't fit to the aftermath of one having seen a nightmare. There's not enough of tension. You could have written:

Ambrose bolted up and gasped. He grasped the tunic with sweaty fingers, and felt heart thumping in his ears as if it was a steam hammer. It wasn't real. It couldn't be. He was in the bedroom. His own bedroom. It had to be, as the phone he grabbed from the bedside table had the same screen saver. He moved it with his thump and checked the time: 5.31 am.
Jeesus.
What I try to illustrate there is the tension, fear and confusion that all can be associated with one seeing nightmares. At the end I try relieve that tension and stress by letting him exhale something common (notice that the sentences are getting longer).

5.30am. He wondered if Mercer would be awake. He put the phone down and got out of bed, figuring he might as well go to the bathroom now that he was up. Stifling a yawn, he wandered down the corridor to the bathroom, feeling along the wall until he found the light switch. With only him in the house, he didn’t bother closing the door as he used the toilet.

He flushed, washed his hands, and spent a moment fussing over his reflection. As he turned to the door, something dark moved down the corridor.
I would like you dropping in the character name in places. The other thing I'd like to say is that by reading that and not knowing he'd seen a nightmare, I would say he's doing the normal thing and the only unbelievable action comes with washing of his hands. Men wouldn't do that. They would yawn, have a wee (standing of course), probably fart and then scratch their bottom or bollocks, while leaving the bathroom in complete darkness (taken in account that there's a window on the wall).

So I'd say that you have driven the tension down almost completely and what he's doing isn't associated with fear. The horror goes hand in hand with one feeling scared and if the readers can feel what he's feeling they aren't terrified when something moves in the "dark."

He froze, breath held, stomach clenched. He could hear nothing but the pounding of his heart. Had he imagined that?

In films, the idiot would call out and alert the intruder, making them aware of their presence. Well there was no way he was going to do that. He knew the floorboard just in front of the bathroom door creaked too. He needed to avoid it and sneak down the stairs and out, maybe to the neighbour’s where he could use the phone to call the police. He just needed to move.
Okay this is the complete opposite to what you wrote above and it's what I was explaining. The problem I had is with the floorboard. Does he know it creaks or did it heard it creaking?

Warm breath on the back of his neck. The hair on his arms rose, a voice whispered, “Ambrose.”
Spooky.

He ran, almost tripping over himself as he flew down the stairs, bare feet thumping cream carpet. He sped across the hallway, hit the front door, fumbled with the handle, and tumbled out into the street.

Outside, he drew in gasps of breath, dragged a hand through his hair and chanced a look back at his house. Nobody followed him. The door was open, the hallway still dark and everything quiet but for a dog barking somewhere down the street.
Nice. I have a problem with last sentence ... but for a dog barking ... is that proper english?

He shivered as the adrenalin rush dropped away and as the minutes passed, he started to feel self-conscious standing in the middle of the road in his boxers. Headlights shone and a car drove down the road so he raised an apologetic hand and returned to the pavement, cursing himself for sending Mercer home.

Still nobody emerged from his house but he wouldn’t go back inside. What if somebody was waiting for him with a knife? Then a niggle at the back of his mind: what if he’d imagined it? Had he really heard a voice? If he had, he couldn’t remember what it had sounded like. He didn’t even know if it had been male or female. Male, he thought.
I'd like the car flashing the lights, honking the horn and some teenager coming out from the window to shout something moronic, while he's absolutely s**t scared. And that is what you achieve at the end.
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,445
Location
Devon
Hey Mouse.

Overall I think it's good. I wonder if the bit in red is a bit too lucid thinking so the situation? It doesn't sound like he is panicking or anything, or even scared in that paragraph; just working out a game plan of how to escape. I think you need to get more of his emotion into that paragraph. Like creeping to the door, peeking out, not seeing anyone, then looking down and remembering the floorboard creaks, so step over it. Something like that.

Yeah I see what you mean... It's a very 'him' reaction though. Think it through logically almost, distance himself, then panic.

The ones in bold I think take away a bit of the suspense, imo. The "As he did this, that happened" lines.

I think they might be more suspenseful if written like: Ambrose turned back to the door. A dark figure moved down the corridor.
True. I'm not keen on lots of sentences starting with 'he' so I'll have to work on that. Ta!

I like the scene. The only thing that really bothers me is the line at the end, which seems a bit flat. If he doesn't know if it's male or female, then why does he suddenly decide it's male? Cut one or other of the sentences, I think.

You're right about 'gasps of breath', Mouse, could be either of those you suggested but the former isn't quite right.

Oh, and lastly, I'm not sure how you could do it but perhaps set up the spooky encounter by maybe a paragraph or so? It does happen very quickly and then go away very quickly...if you understand what I mean. It's like being pricked in the arm with a needle; unpleasant, but not enough for one to linger on it.

For a quick comment that got very long, apologies... :eek:

Yeah I know what you mean, it's definitely too 'quick.' This is the sort of thing I have trouble with, I know when things need to be slower but don't know how to slow them down exactly.

edit: missed ctg. Thanks dude! It's a recurring nightmare, so not one that panics him for long as he's used to it. And he'd definitely wash his hands, he's a clean freak! :D
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
18,564
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
She does indeedy.

What about the 'gasps of breath' bit? Should it be 'gasps of air' or 'gasping breaths' instead? I'm thinking I'm wrong somehow.

And the line where the voice speaks doesn't quite work for me.

The gasps of breath, given he's outside and maybe able to take them for the first time might be, possibly, gulps? Like greedy after the fear?

I liked the bit with the voice, though, I thought it worked, though I might have had an as instead of a comma. I agree with WP, that maybe it's not about thought, but panic, and that then gives you the out that it never happened, he just got into a state. And when I'm panicked, all I want to do is run, my whole body just says run (yet strangely a lucid part of my brain is able to tell me I'm panicking and to breathe and calm down). So it's conflicted run! no calm, no Run! in this case, run would win, every time.
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,445
Location
Devon
The gasps of breath, given he's outside and maybe able to take them for the first time might be, possibly, gulps? Like greedy after the fear?

Gulps. I like that, ta!

I liked the bit with the voice, though, I thought it worked, though I might have had an as instead of a comma. I agree with WP, that maybe it's not about thought, but panic, and that then gives you the out that it never happened, he just got into a state. And when I'm panicked, all I want to do is run, my whole body just says run (yet strangely a lucid part of my brain is able to tell me I'm panicking and to breathe and calm down). So it's conflicted run! no calm, no Run! in this case, run would win, every time.

Maybe if I make that section a bit more garbled? I can hear it in his voice in my head and I can feel what he's feeling so I know it works together, I just need to get it down on the page better.
 

allmywires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,672
Location
London
Yeah I know what you mean, it's definitely too 'quick.' This is the sort of thing I have trouble with, I know when things need to be slower but don't know how to slow them down exactly.

I'm no master of these things but here's a suggestion of mine (feel free to entirely ignore it however... :p )

He flushed, washed his hands, and spent a moment fussing over his reflection. As he turned to the door, something dark moved down the corridor. He froze, breath held, stomach clenched. He could hear nothing but the pounding of his heart. Had he imagined that?

(In films, the idiot would call out and alert the intruder, making them aware of their presence. Well there was no way he was going to do that.) I'd cut this as it detracts from the tension a bit, as valid a point as it is.

He knew the floorboard just in front of the bathroom door creaked, so he only took a few steps forwards, just close enough to the door to see out into the hall. He was almost afraid of what he might see, but there was nothing there - or had that shadow always been there? Did it always flicker just so, in that spot where there was usually nothing? Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him, but just in case, he had better be sure. He needed to avoid that creaking floorboard and sneak down the stairs and out, maybe to the neighbour’s where he could use the phone to call the police. He just needed to move. That flickering darkness was unnerving him.

One step further towards the door and he was frozen solid.

Warm breath on the back of his neck. The hair on his arms rose. A voice whispered, “Ambrose.”

Etc.

Clearly all I've added is my own waffle but something like that. :)
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,445
Location
Devon
Eee! Allmywires, that's so brilliant. Can you re-write my whole MS please? :D Thanks!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads


Top